Discovering Europe by bike

11 Sep

A lighthouse on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea at Portugal's Cabo de Sao Vicente coastline


Atlantic Coast Route

EuroVelo 1 (EV 1) is 8,186 kilometers long. It stretches from Nordkap in Norway, Europe's northernmost point, to the southernmost point, Sagres, in Portugal. Back in the Middle Ages, adventurous seafarers sailed off from there into the horizon. Cyclists on the EV 1 had best keep the coastline in sight. With landmarks such as cliffs, fjords, dunes and lonely beaches, it's a feast for the eyes!


From the Atlantic to the Black Sea

The EV 6 follows six rivers across Europe from west to east, winding along 3,653 kilometers through 10 countries. The route starts in Nantes, France, where the Loire flows into the Atlantic. Later, it traces the Danube's course all the way to Romania's Black Sea coast. Castles line the way along the Loire Valley, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.

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The Pilgrims' Route

Walking paths often work for bicycles, too. The Pilgrims' Route is marked with signs bearing a scallop shell, which has marked pilgrims' paths for centuries. Also known as the EV 3, it starts from Trondheim in Norway, and makes its way to the Galician capital, Santiago de Compostela, one of the most important destinations for Christian pilgrims. Millions of people head for the city each year.


The Capitals Route

Seven countries, seven capitals — from Ireland to Russia. The entire route is still a distant fantasy. In particular, with regard to the stages of the total 5,500 kilometers through Poland, Belarus and Russia. But the start has been made: From Galway in Ireland, the route goes via Bristol to the British capital, London.


From the Rhine to the North Sea

From the Rhine's source in the Alps, EuroVelo 15 (EV 15) winds 1,230 kilometers along one of Europe's key waterways to the river's mouth in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. EV 15 traverses the meadows that line the Rhine's upper reaches and goes by the romantic castles of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. Further along, it visits the industrial Ruhr Valley before coming to an end at the North Sea.


Via Romea Francigena

More than 1,000 years ago, Sigeric the Serious, the Archbishop of Canterbury, traveled to Rome to receive his vestment of power, the pallium, from the Pope. The Via Romeo Francigena traces his footsteps through five countries and ends in Italy. The route is as impressive as it is strenuous, particularly when crossing the Alps near Basel in Switzerland via the Gotthard Pass.


Baltic Sea Cycle Route

The Baltic Sea Cycle Route wends its way along the Baltic coast for 7,980 kilometers. It starts and ends in the Russian city of St. Petersburg. Along the way, riders are confronted with the cities of the mighty Medieval Hanseatic League. The route goes through the German UNESCO World Heritage sites of Wismar and Stralsund. The picture above shows architecture typical of the Hanseatic period.


The North Sea Cycle Route

Known as EV 12, the North Sea Cycle Route goes through seven countries. The longest leg takes riders through the wilds of the Scottish Highlands. The path follows rivers and coastal cliffs, then crosses lonely plains and pastures. Even when on main roads, there is rarely much traffic here, making the place a dream for every cycle tourist.


The Mediterranean Route

The sunny Mediterranean climate follows cyclists who choose this tour (EV 8). The route takes them 5,888 kilometer from Cadiz in Spain to Cyprus. On the way, isolated bathing beaches alternate with exciting cities, among them Barcelona, Monaco and Venice (photo). There are also little-known jewels to be found along the coast of Montenegro and Albania.


The Iron Curtain Trail

Stretching from the Barents Sea to the Black Sea, the Iron Curtain was a 7,000-kilometer-long barrier that at one time divided Europe into East and West. Cyclists on the EV 13 experience the history of Europe's division and reunification. Abandoned watchtowers and border posts, as well as memorial sites (photo: Mikulov Memorial, Czech Republic) provide traces reminiscent of these eras.


Author Anne Termèche

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